We were pleased to be invited to put on a small display about Harpenden’s history and the Society’s activities at a gathering of some of the over 4000 members of this closed Facebook page, who share their memories of Harpenden’s changing scene and their schooldays.
As tasters from our extensive collection of artefacts our display included quoits (with photos of Cllr Fred Gingell in action in Rothamsted Park), a pair of pattens, used for keeping shoes clean across a muddy yard or path, and a 102 year-old Ackroyd’s scone, with its link to one of the 5000 Notts & Derbys (Sherwood Foresters) soldiers billeted in Harpenden in 1914/15. He bought the scone from the Ackroyd’s baker’s boy who called by the Pimlico cottages, but instead of eating it he left it with his landlady – who returned it to Ernie Ackroyd some 20 years later! Unfortunately, like most of the billeted soldiers, we do not have his name, or that of his hostess.
Samples of straw plaiting and straw splitters reminded visitors of grannies who plaited to eke out the family income, and many people came to share their memories and photos – such as Rita Cobb with photos of the Holland family in Cravells Road, and her uncles John and Keith Holland who worked at Harpenden post office and served in the second world war. Jordan Giddings brought along the maquettes made by his great-uncle Charles Giddings around 1927/8 for the carvings of Mercury on the now former Harpenden Post Office in Station Road.
We hope that more members of the Old Harpenden Facebook page will now contribute pages and comments direct to this website.